GMA: China partner in development not threat

With China poised to become the world’s leading economy, developing countries including the Philippines should further boost their ties with Beijing instead of looking at it as a competitor or a threat, Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Thursday night.

Arroyo, who attended the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in Hainan, China, said the country through the years has proven wrong the negative notions of its policies towards reform and opening up as it has become a partner in development.

Arroyo is a member of the board of BFA, which gathers together leaders in government, business, and academic institutions throughout Asia to share their thoughts on the most pressing issues in the region and the world.

Talking to the press, Arroyo said that when she traded undersecretary in the 1980s when China had just started to open its economy, she often wondered about the role it would play in the global trade setting.

“You know, when China was beginning to develop, about six years into its transformation, I was undersecretary of trade and industry, and we were looking at this economic dragon that was rising in Asia, and we were wondering when China would become a competitor in the world. Little did we know that China is in a class of its own, and now, 40 years later under the presidency of Xi Jinping, it has become a partner in development. China, for us in the developing countries, is a market, a donor and a provider of capital and technology,” Arroyo said.

The Philippines in particular, she said, is benefiting from China’s transformation because it has become the country’s no. 1 trading partner.

“As a market, for instance, it has become the Philippines’ number one trading partner. So we have been able to benefit a lot by selling goods to China. Agricultural products, for instance, if you eat a banana, it’s probably from the Philippines. So it’s been a very big market for the Philippines,” she said.

As a donor, China has been a major source of assistance to some of the Philippines’ major projects, she said.

“For instance, China has built bridges in the Philippines, it is building a dam for a water system and irrigation, and it will be building a major railroad. Not just one but two major railroads. So those are some of the ways by which China has benefited the Philippines,” she said.

She added that China has also been a major market for Filipino-Chinese businessmen as they have been investing in China.

“The Philippines actually has been investing in China for quite some time now because we have a very big Filipino-Chinese community, so I’m sure they can invest further in China. At the same time, China is also now investing more and more in the Philippines. So this must be a win-win solution for the developing world. So what I can say is that China’s effort in opening up has really been a boost for the economies of the world, especially the developing economies. The world should look at China’s rise as an opportunity rather than a threat,” she said.

In the Palace, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio was just joking when he said he was under surveillance by China.

Panelo said Carpio was “making everyone laugh” when he remarked that Beijing was monitoring his phone calls and e-mails.

In a convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Iloilo City, Carpio was giving a lecture on China’s claims in the disputed South China Sea when a power outage occurred.

“I knew that my e-mail and my phone conversations are being monitored by China but I didn’t know they have the capability to tinker with our video now,” Carpio said during the 17th national convention of the IBP on Thursday.

Panelo, who previously engaged Carpio in a debate about the country’s Chico River Irrigation Loan Agreement with China, was also present during the event.

READ: Palace flip-flops on Chinese loan

On Thursday, Panelo and Carpio bumped into each other at the convention, and Panelo sent a photo of them together to Palace reporters.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, however, took Carpio’s joke seriously, GMA News reported.

“[It is] not surprising, Globe and Smart use Huawei network services since before,” Sotto said in a text message to GMA News Online without elaborating.

READ: Palace sees PH-China loan deal standard, rules out debt default

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Topics: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo , Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference , Xi Jinping
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